The caretaker of two pit bulls believed responsible for an attack on four pet llamas at a Ukiah-area ranch last week said Tuesday he believes the dogs have been mistakenly condemned for blood spilled by coyotes or some other predator.
Richard Bier, whose rescue dog, Cocoa, was shot dead during the incident, said the 4-year-old pit bull feared noise and violence and could not have participated in the attack that killed two llamas and maimed a third.
But authorities say deputies called to the Robinson Creek Road property where the llamas were savaged late Thursday night saw the dogs repeatedly circle back toward the surviving livestock and display aggression toward the human officers.
The dogs represented a threat to public safety, the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office said. After repeated attempts to subdue them failed, one was shot and killed, authorities said.
The second dog, whom Bier said had been left in his care by a friend, is in 10-day quarantine to determine if it could have passed rabies to the injured llama, who survived the attack.
That dog will then be put down, Capt. Kurt Smallcomb said.
Bier also has been cited under the state food and agricultural code for permitting his dogs to roam on property with livestock. Authorities said he would probably have to pay restitution for the dead llamas.
In a rambling interview, Bier argued both that his dog is too sweet and gentle to behave so viciously, and that a human can't be held liable for the thoughts and actions of a dog.
He also said both dogs had lived peaceably with the chickens, ducks and rabbits on his own land, and said the only blood on Cocoa's body when he retrieved him for burial was due to gunshot wounds to his head and stomach — proof he didn't tear apart a llama.
The dog's execution "killed me," Bier said. "I cried for days. I still ain't right &#8230; That was my dog, that was my baby. That was my son."